Friday, January 28, 2011

B'stilla-French Fridays with Dorie

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A Moroccan dish traditionally served for sumptuous wedding feasts or other grand occasions, B'stilla-bastila-pronounced basteela was originally made with pigeon or squab. Cinnamon, coriander, ground ginger, the earthy saffron and onions along with the meat-flavorful skinless chicken thighs are a more modern substitution- marinate briefly at room temperature or in the fridge for no more than a day, then is cooked in chicken broth until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. The aroma while cooking wafts through my kitchen. This is definitely going to be a hit with my family.

The magic begins when the tender chicken is removed from the bone, set aside and the strained broth is reduced about half. Then a swirl of eggs, honey and lemon juice is whisked in and cooked until a lovely sauce is achieved. The chicken along with cilantro and parsley are mixed into the sauce. Encased in buttered filo dough sheets sprinkled with toasted almonds, the prepared b'stilla is brushed with butter and dusted with cinnamon sugar. The chicken and sauce can be made up to a day ahead and chilled until ready for the filo dough construction. After baking, the b'stilla can be served warm or room temperature.  A great dish meant to be eaten with the hands, but I find forks much easier.  Personally, I would like a thinner pie, so would make the b'stilla using the same amount of filling to make two pies, but keeping the same filo dough requirements for the one pie. The recipe for this delicious can be found in "Around My French Table" by Dorie Greenspan. French Fridays with Dorie is a group formed to cook all the fabulous recipes in this marvelous cookbook.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nutty, Chocolaty Swirly Sour Cream Bundt Cake-TWD

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As Dorie said, this is a classic cake! It may go in and out of style depending on what cake is popular at the moment, but for a great cake to serve at any occasion, the Nutty, Chocolaty, Swirly Sour Cream Bundt Cake will do the job magnificently. A fine crumbed cake with the essence of orange zest, the zing of sour cream and a lovely buttery flavor, this cake has a cinnamon sugar, crunchy walnut and sweet softness of raisins swirled through the middle of the batter. Not only is the cake delightfully delicious, it is also a good keeper and may be even better the day after it is baked. Wrapped well, it can be frozen up to 2 months. When I freeze cakes that would feed a big crowd, but there are only two of us at home, I slice the cake into serving portions and pull out what I need at the moment.

Thanks to Jennifer of Cooking for Comfort for choosing this enticing cake for this edition of Tuesdays with Dorie. You can find the recipe on her blog or from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Now if you will excuse this short post-my coffee is brewing and my slice of Nutty, Chocolaty, Swirly Sour Cream Bundt Cake awaits!

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Michel Rostang's Double Chocolate Mousse Cake

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A decadently rich chocolate mousse cake with an unusual method of baking. The entire batter is a mousse, but one third of the mixture is baked briefly and cooled. The remainder of the chocolate mousse after being refrigerated is spooned atop the cooked layer and baked again. The cake can be served warm-I loved the warm idea, but no time as I was going out of town- or cold.  The cake is a gem and well worth baking.! If you don't have Dorie Greenspan's new book, "Around My French Table",  you're missing out on a great collection of French home cooking recipes that Ms. Greenspan has collected over the years.  When you buy this great book, by all means join the French Fridays with Dorie group and cook along with the selected recipes for each month. You will be cooking your way through the book in no time and in the process have some great food to serve your family and friends.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Six Classic Cocktails-Week Five-The Daiquiri

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The cocktail king, El Rey de los Coteleros, better known as Constante Ribalagua, presided over the bar at the famous La Florida restaurant and is said to have squeezed over 80 million limes and to have made over 10 million daiquiris.  A well-deserved title, as it is said that his limes were gently squeezed to extract the juice, but not let a drop of the bitter oil from the peel fall into the drink. Mixed, but not over-mixed in a blender, the icy cold daiquiri was strained through a fine sieve so that not even the tiniest piece of  ice remained in the drink. Located at the corner of Obispo and Monserrate streets in Havana, Cuba, the restaurant  became the Floridita to distinguish it from a similar restaurant nearby. Source-The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Embury. Embury does not mention Ernest Hemingway who resided at the Hotel Ambos only a few blocks away. Hemingway was then writing the final version of For Whom the Bell Tolls. It is said that Hemingway was strolling down Obispo and  walked into the bar to of the La Florida to use the toliet. Afterwards, he was curious about the drinks being served there and upon tasting the daiquiri said he preferred no sugar or double rum. So the cocktail king prepared the daiquiri to Hemingway's taste and said-"There it is, Papa".

A simple, but perfect cocktail, the daiquiri is composed of 1/2 teaspoonful of sugar, the juice of half a lime and 1 jigger of white rum. One variation  uses slightly less sugar and adds two dashes of grenadine. This version is called the Santiago. Embury suggests that no decoration be used in a daiquiri as it is a cloudy drink and that such decorations are only for eye appeal.

The Classic Daiquiri
1 part sugar syrup
2 parts freshly squeezed lime juice
8 parts White Label Cuban Rum

Shake vigorously with plenty of finely crushed ice and strain into chilled cocktail glasses. The daiquiri should be a "stinging cold" drink made with an excellent Cuban rum. If no Cuban rum is available, then you will have to settle for a Puerto Rican rum-a white label Bacardi.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins-Tuesdays with Dorie

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Fabulous little muffins that I will definitely make again. Thanks to Betsey of acupofsweetness for her pick of these lemony poppy seed muffins. I loved the idea of filling mine with lemon curd, my very favorite luscious spread of all time. A short post tonight, but enough said about the muffins-make them! Betsey has the recipe on her blog, but be sure and check out all the wonderful photos and variations of this delightful muffin that the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group has posted.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Provençal Olive Fougasse-Bread Machine Version

Print Friendly and PDF Fougasse, pronounced "foo-GAHS" is the French version of the Italian focaccia. Well known in the Provençal region of Southern France bordering the Mediterranean Sea and whose cuisine more resembles the flavors of Italy, Spain and Greece, the fougasse is simple yeast raised flatbread fragrant with olive oil and rosemary.The prepared dough is rolled out into and rectangular shape, then is slashed and pulled apart to create spaces in the dough. The history of this ancient bread dates back to around the 12th century and was traditionally used to test the temperature of the wood fired ovens. The time it took to bake the fougasse determined how hot the oven was and whether the rest of the bread could be placed in the oven to cook.

The fougasse dough comes together easily when using a bread machine to do the work of mixing and kneading. The briny olives and pungent rosemary are best kneaded in after the dough comes out of the bread machine. Letting the bread dough rest covered for about 15 minutes after kneading in the olives and rosemary relaxes the dough so it can rolled out easily. Serve warm or at room temperature with cheese, salami or a similar sausage and a glass of wine. Glorious food for a picnic!

Provençal Olive Fougasse
Adapted for the Bread Machine

1-1/2 cups water (slightly warm), plus extra 2 teaspoons
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive, plus 1 tablespoon extra
3-1/2-4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup black or green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Kosher salt for sprinkling

Combine the 1-1/2 cups water, yeast, sugar, the 4 tablespoons olive oil, flour and salt in the bread machine pan. Process on the dough cycle. You may need to add more water or flour, depending on the humidity. Remove dough to a lightly floured surface, punch down and knead in olives, rosemary and grated lemon zest. At this point, dough may be refrigerated for several hours or overnight. Divide dough in half; cover with a kitchen towel and let rest 15 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a 12 by 8-inch rectangle, adding flour to keep from sticking. Transfer the dough to a large non-stick baking sheet or one lined with parchment paper.  Using a sharp knife, cut 4 slashes about 2 inches long, at an angle down each long side of the fougasse. Make a vertical slash near the top of the rectangle, if desired.  With your fingers, carefully pull the slashes open, about an inch wide.Don't worry about each slash being perfect-it is a rustic bread! Mine aren't perfect, either.

Cover the dough and let rest 15 minutes. In the meantime, position oven racks to divide the oven into thirds. Preheat oven to 450° F. Mix the remaining olive oil and water together in a small cup. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Brush on oil and water mixture, sprinkle all over with the Kosher salt.

Place baking sheets into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back, then bake another 10 minutes, or until bread is golden brown. Transfer the fougasse to a cooling rack and let rest about 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Gnocchi à la Parisienne-French Fridays with Dorie

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Gnocchi are small fat dumplings traditionally made from flour, potatoes, semolina, bread crumbs or similar ingredients. Derived from the Italian word gnocco, meaning knot in wood or nocco, meaning knuckle, gnocchi has roots in Middle Eastern cuisine having been introduced by the Romans during the vast expansion into Europe. In the last few thousand years, the gnocchi has been refined by each country as their own, but remains true to its age-old heritage. Source. However, somewhere along road, the French invented a new gnocchi made from the famous pate à choux, or cream puff dough. The dough is poached in in the same manner as gnocchi, but in gnocchi à la Pariesenne, the gnocchi is cloaked in a bèchamel sauce, covered with shredded cheese and baked until bubbly and browned. A delicious family recipe given to Dorie by her longtime friend, Paule Caillet. This divine recipe is in Ms. Greenspan's new cookbook Around My French Table and is the pick of the week for French Fridays with Dorie.  Each month, four recipes are chosen from the cookbook, prepared, photographed and posted by members of the FFWD

Having made gnocchi from potatoes before, I had trepidations about a cream puff pastry gnocchi. Dropping the prepared dough by teaspoons into the simmering water wouldn't make a perfect shaped gnocchi, it seemed. But while reading through the question and answer comments on the FFWD site, Karen of soupaddict suggested instead to either place the dough in a piping bag without a tip or place the dough in a plastic bag with a small notch cut in the end and with scissors, cut off  uniform pieces of the dough  into the simmering water. The plastic bag idea worked great for me and my trepidations evaporated. Thanks, Karen!
Bèchamel sauce is called the mere,  mother sauce in France. It is a basic white sauce to which many variations are made. The 6 tablespoons flour to 2-1/2 teaspoons butter ratio for two cups of milk made a very thick bechamel sauce. I thinned the sauce before covering the gnocchi. Next time, I will use a basic white sauce ratio of 4 tablespoons butter and 4 tablespoons flour per 2 cups milk. Covered in a combination of Parmesan and Comte, the finished gnocchi à la Pariesienne was delicious. Dorie cautioned in the sidebar that the dish will not and should be brought directly to the table from the oven. However, we eat after the sun goes down, so I photographed mine, then warmed it for dinner. Although, it was much better just out of the oven, it still was superb.

If you would like the recipe for the gnocchi à la Parisienne, by all means buy Around My French Table. FFWD group rules state we not post the recipe. If you would like to become a member, go to the FFWD website.

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Friday, January 07, 2011

Paris Mushroom Soup-French Fridays with Dorie

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One of my New Year's resolutions is to try to keep up with the French Fridays with Dorie group who are cooking their way through Dorie Greenspan's, Around My French Table. Friday's are difficult for me to cook or post on my blog as we usually go to our Savannah house or visit one of the girls for the weekend. Yesterday, as I was waiting the the refrigerator repairman  to come fix a leak in my ice maker with a window of between 8am and 5pm, I had an opportunity to make the Paris Mushroom soup as well as this soup and a French baguette to go with my French soup.

An easy soup to make; basically, sauteed onions, garlic, mushrooms, a bit of white wine, some parsley and rosemary cooked briefly in a broth, then pureed. Maybe not a beautiful soup, but the flavor is incredible. Next time I make it, I probably won't puree it, but still top it with the colorful  mushroom and scallion salad. Creme fraiche with it's smooth texture adds a pleasant tangy flavor to complement the soup and the salad. 

"Around My French Table" is full of homestyle, but classic French recipes collected by Ms Greenspan over the many years living and traveling in France. A wonderful addition to any culinary library!

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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Six Classic Cocktails-Week Four-The Side Car

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In the The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, the quintessential book on cocktails by David Embury, he states that the Side Car cocktail is basically a daiquiri with with brandy or Cognac in place of the rum and Cointreau in place of the sugar syrup. Said to be invented by a friend at a bar in Paris during World War 1, the drink was named after the motorcycle sidecar that the American Army Captain was driven to and from the  bistro where the drink was born and christened. Source-The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.

When originally concocted, the Side Car contained twice the number of ingredients in place of the three that are now traditional in nearly all cocktail recipe books. Embury explains that although the recipe is simplified, the proportions are skewered. Equal parts lemon juice, Cointreau and brandy or Cognac impart a cloyingly sweet taste to the Side Car, designed as an aperitif.

No fancy garnish is needed for the Side Car-only a twist of lemon which is then dropped in the glass. A twist, meaning-"a fresh, soft lemon with clear, unblemished skin." With a razor sharp paring knife slice off thin strips of the peel about 3/8"wide, lengthwise the lemon. Take care not to include any of the white pulp under the yellow skin. After pouring the Side Car into the chilled cocktail glass, take the peel between the thumb and middle finger and give it a sharp pinch over the glass. 

Side Car Deluxe

1 part Cointreau or Triple Sec
2 parts freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 parts Cognac or Armagnac

Shake vigorously with plenty of cracked or crushed ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. A twist of lemon may be used, if desired and the peel dropped into the glass. Otherwise, no decoration.

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Sunday, January 02, 2011

Ten Favorite Food Still Life Photos

Print Friendly and PDF My favorite food still life photos from this blog and from my photography blog-photo-per-diem.  Click on the photo to view the post. As much as I enjoy shooting and styling food photos, the still life food and food related  photos are my favorite. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year-2011

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These glasses are empty-let us fill them with love, peace and prosperity in this new year of 2011-Happy New Year to All.

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